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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Matti Friedman takes on the NGO's

You might recall that last summer, former AP reporter and editor Matti Friedman wrote a blockbuster piece about the institutional bias in the international media's reporting from Israel. He's back again with lots more details, including the media's partnership with NGO's (non-governmental organizations).
To make sense of most international journalism from Israel, it is important first to understand that the news tells us far less about Israel than about the people writing the news. Journalistic decisions are made by people who exist in a particular social milieu, one which, like most social groups, involves a certain uniformity of attitude, behavior, and even dress (the fashion these days, for those interested, is less vests with unnecessary pockets than shirts with unnecessary buttons). These people know each other, meet regularly, exchange information, and closely watch one another’s work. This helps explain why a reader looking at articles written by the half-dozen biggest news providers in the region on a particular day will find that though the pieces are composed and edited by completely different people and organizations, they tend to tell the same story.
The best insight into one of the key phenomena at play here comes not from a local reporter but from the journalist and author Philip Gourevitch. In Rwanda and elsewhere in Africa, Gourevitch wrote in 2010, he was struck by the ethical gray zone of ties between reporters and NGOs. “Too often the press represents humanitarians with unquestioning admiration,” he observed in The New Yorker. “Why not seek to keep them honest? Why should our coverage of them look so much like their own self-representation in fund-raising appeals? Why should we (as many photojournalists and print reporters do) work for humanitarian agencies between journalism jobs, helping them with their official reports and institutional appeals, in a way that we would never consider doing for corporations, political parties, or government agencies?”
This confusion is very much present in Israel and the Palestinian territories, where foreign activists are a notable feature of the landscape, and where international NGOs and numerous arms of the United Nations are among the most powerful players, wielding billions of dollars and employing many thousands of foreign and local employees. Their SUVs dominate sections of East Jerusalem and their expense accounts keep Ramallah afloat. They provide reporters with social circles, romantic partners, and alternative employment—a fact that is more important to reporters now than it has ever been, given the disintegration of many newspapers and the shoestring nature of their Internet successors.
In my time in the press corps, I learned that our relationship with these groups was not journalistic. My colleagues and I did not, that is, seek to analyze or criticize them. For many foreign journalists, these were not targets but sources and friends—fellow members, in a sense, of an informal alliance. This alliance consists of activists and international staffers from the UN and the NGOs; the Western diplomatic corps, particularly in East Jerusalem; and foreign reporters. (There is also a local component, consisting of a small number of Israeli human-rights activists who are themselves largely funded by European governments, and Palestinian staffers from the Palestinian Authority, the NGOs, and the UN.) Mingling occurs at places like the lovely Oriental courtyard of the American Colony hotel in East Jerusalem, or at parties held at the British Consulate’s rooftop pool. The dominant characteristic of nearly all of these people is their transience. They arrive from somewhere, spend a while living in a peculiar subculture of expatriates, and then move on.
In these circles, in my experience, a distaste for Israel has come to be something between an acceptable prejudice and a prerequisite for entry. I don’t mean a critical approach to Israeli policies or to the ham-fisted government currently in charge in this country, but a belief that to some extent the Jews of Israel are a symbol of the world’s ills, particularly those connected to nationalism, militarism, colonialism, and racism—an idea quickly becoming one of the central elements of the “progressive” Western zeitgeist, spreading from the European left to American college campuses and intellectuals, including journalists. In this social group, this sentiment is translated into editorial decisions made by individual reporters and editors covering Israel, and this, in turn, gives such thinking the means of mass self-replication.  
In the aftermath of the three-week Gaza war of 2008-2009, not yet quite understanding the way things work, I spent a week or so writing a story about NGOs like Human Rights Watch, whose work on Israel had just been subject to an unusual public lashing in The New York Times by its own founder, Robert Bernstein. (The Middle East, he wrote, “is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.”) My article was gentle, all things considered, beginning like this:
JERUSALEM (AP) _ The prickly relationship between Israel and its critics in human rights organizations has escalated into an unprecedented war of words as the fallout from Israel’s Gaza offensive persists ten months after the fighting ended.
Editors killed the story.
Around this time, a Jerusalem-based group called NGO Monitor was battling the international organizations condemning Israel after the Gaza conflict, and though the group was very much a pro-Israel outfit and by no means an objective observer, it could have offered some partisan counterpoint in our articles to charges by NGOs that Israel had committed “war crimes.” But the bureau’s explicit orders to reporters were to never quote the group or its director, an American-born professor named Gerald Steinberg. In my time as an AP writer moving through the local conflict, with its myriad lunatics, bigots, and killers, the only person I ever saw subjected to an interview ban was this professor.
When the UN released its controversial Goldstone report on the Gaza fighting, we at the bureau trumpeted its findings in dozens of articles, though there was discussion even at the time of the report’s failure to prove its central charge: that Israel had killed civilians on purpose. (The director of Israel’s premier human-rights group, B’Tselem, who was critical of the Israeli operation, told me at the time that this claim was “a reach given the facts,” an evaluation that was eventually seconded by the report’s author. “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document,” Richard Goldstone wrote in The Washington Post in April 2011.) We understood that our job was not to look critically at the UN report, or any such document, but to publicize it.
Decisions like these are hard to fathom if you believe the foreign press corps’ role is to explain a complicated story to people far away. But they make sense if you understand that journalists covering Israel and the Palestinian territories often don’t see their role that way. The radio and print journalist Mark Lavie, who has reported from the region since 1972, was a colleague of mine at the AP, where he was an editor in the Jerusalem bureau and then in Cairo until his retirement last year. (It was Lavie who first learned of the Israeli peace offer of late 2008, and was ordered by his superiors to ignore the story.) An Indiana-born Israeli of moderate politics, he had a long run in journalism that included several wars and the first Palestinian intifada, and found little reason to complain about the functioning of the media.
But things changed in earnest in 2000, with the collapse of peace efforts and the outbreak of the Second Intifada. Israel accepted President Bill Clinton’s peace framework that fall and the Palestinians rejected it, as Clinton made clear. Nevertheless, Lavie recently told me, the bureau’s editorial line was still that the conflict was Israel’s fault, and the Palestinians and the Arab world were blameless. By the end of Lavie’s career, he was editing Israel copy on the AP’s Middle East regional desk in Cairo, trying to restore balance and context to stories he thought had little connection to reality. In his words, he had gone from seeing himself as a proud member of the international press corps to “the Jew-boy with his finger in the dike.” He wrote a book, Broken Spring, about his front-row view of the Middle East’s descent into chaos, and retired disillusioned and angry.

Read the whole thing. And yes, he also explains the genesis of that picture at the top of this post.

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Guess what country is more Muslim than Iran

The BBC reports that the Christian population of Turkey has declined from 20% to 0.2% in the last 100 years. No, that's not a typo. And it's not an accident either.
"No country in the region - including Iran - is as homogenous in terms of Islam as Turkey," says writer Cengiz Aktar. "It's a mono-colour country - it's a Muslim country."
After the Turkish Republic was born in 1923, it carried out a "population exchange" with Greece to create more ethnic and religious consistency. More than a million Greeks were forced out of Turkey to Greece while around 300,000 Muslims from Greece were relocated here.
The Greeks of Istanbul were initially saved but after a crippling wealth tax, anti-Greek pogroms in 1955 and mass expulsions in 1964, the Greek community was left in tatters. And so was the Orthodox Christianity they practised. 
"The ethnic cleansing of these non-Muslim minorities was a huge brain drain," says Mr Aktar, who has created a new exhibition on the loss of the Greeks here.
"It also meant the disappearance of the bourgeoisie because not only were they wealthy but they were artisans. Istanbul lost its entire Christian and Jewish heritage."
It was not just the exodus of the Greeks that hit Christianity here.
Armenians were the other large Christian community. Hundreds of thousands were deported in 1915. They were either killed or died from starvation and disease. The label "genocide" is rejected by the Turkish state. From a population of two million Armenians, around 50,000 remain today.
"Most of the believers hide their cross inside their shirt. They can't open it and walk freely on the street because they could prompt a reaction. I don't want to say all the Turkish population is against Christianity but nationalism is so high that people are afraid to express themselves."
That is now the worry among the Christian minority here: that Turkish Muslim nationalism has grown under the Islamist-rooted government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister for 11 years before being elected president last August.
And they call us 'racists'? Read the whole thing

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Erdogan: US never landed on the moon

This is not a parody. (See below).

President Hussein Obama's Best Friend Forever, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has a new and bizarre claim. Erdogan is now claiming that the United States never landed men on the moon (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
Addressing a meeting in Izmir on global warming, Erdogan said USA has to finally admit that astronauts never landed on the moon and it was staged in the Hollywood. He also appealed to other leaders of the world to back him up.
“Every president, PM or chancellor know the truth about US moon hoax. When we are elected to the cabinets, we get the black suitcase where all secrets of the world are kept. I was shocked when I learned that US never went to the moon,” Erdogan said. “The leaders are supposed to keep this secrets and never tell, but it is time for honesty.”
Turkish president promised that he will reveal more secrets when the time is right.
And for those of you who are too young to remember, let's go to the videotape.

You can all decide for yourselves.


Sorry folks, this IS a parody. 

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Islamic State claims to have kidnapped Canadian Israeli UPDATED

The Islamic State terror group claims to have kidnapped 31-year old Jill Rosenberg, a Canadian immigrant to Israel who recently traveled to Irbil to join the Kurdish resistance. This is from the second link - a report that is nearly three weeks old.
Rosenberg was born and raised in the Canadian province of British Columbia, while preparing for career pilots of civil aviation. However, in 2006, she left everything behind and immigrated from Canada to Israel, and a short time later was drafted into the ranks of the IDF. Rosenberg has served two years as a soldier of emergency services in the home front Command.
In 2009, Rosenberg was arrested in a joint operation by the FBI and the police of Israel: 12 people, including her, were accused of fraudulently obtaining $ 25 million from older Americans. Members of the criminal group called themselves the representatives of the lottery were sent to the old congratulatory bouquets and gifts to gain their trust, and then asked to pay a Deposit before receiving the main prize".
On request of the American side Rosenberg was extradited to the United States. On the court she expressed remorse for his actions and told the judge, among other things, that "all the time was looking for a better job and even tried to enter the Mossad". The Federal court in new York sentenced her to four years in prison, but, in all probability, it was released earlier this term and deported to Israel.
Some time ago, Rosenberg was established through the social network contact with the Kurdish resistance and decided that its military and aviation experience for them would be a great help. To reach Kurdistan was easy: November 2, Jill arrived at the airport of Amman in Jordan, and the next morning landed at the airport of Irbil, the Kurdish capital.
In a telephone conversation with the journalist of radio Rosenberg said: "the Kurds just like the Jews - they are good people, they love life as we are." She told me that now is training and familiarization with the terrain and soon expects to be in a combat zone, which still 3000 km
There are more pictures of Rosenberg here (link in Russian). 

There is no independent confirmation of this story. We can only hope and pray for the sake of a fellow Jew that it is not true.


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Why Israel's economy doesn't need 'peace' to grow

It's the technology, stupid!

Yoram Ettinger explains why - BDS notwithstanding - the Israeli economy doesn't 'peace' to grow.
In fact, Israel's unique economic growth – from $1.5bn GDP in 1949 to $300bn in 2014, from $50mn annual exports in 1949 to $97bn in 2014, and from no foreign exchange reserves in 1949 to $92bn in 2014 – has been driven by Aliyah (Jewish immigration), fiscal responsibility, brain power, cutting-edge commercial and defense technologies, exports, military posture of deterrence and (most recently) natural gas; not by the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, or the Oslo Accord with the PLO.
For example, Israel's GDP surged by 8%-14% annually following Israel's victory in the Six Day War (1967-1972), and by 9% upon the launching of the Aliyah wave of one million Olim from the USSR in 1990. On the other hand, the post Oslo (1993-1996) economic growth of 4%-7% was triggered, mostly, by the Aliyah ripple effect, but was marred by rapidly worsening budget and trade deficits.
In addition, Israel's 42.5% annual inflation in 1977 - when the Begin-Sadat peace initiative was launched - galloped to 111.4% in 1979 and 445% in 1984. Inflation was reduced to 19.7% in 1986, and to the current low single digit levels through an unprecedented policy of fiscal responsibility; not through the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.
The BDS impact on Israel's economy is minor as demonstrated by the improved trade balance between Israel and Turkey and Britain, independent of the Turkish government and British Parliament support of BDS. Moreover, Israel's vulnerability to BDS is highly constrained since 90% of Israel's exports are business-to-business, enhancing the cost-effectiveness and the level of health, medicine, irrigation, science, education and national security of Israel's trade partners. Furthermore, Israel's trade is trending away from Europe – the epicenter of BDS – towards India, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the former Soviet Republics.
Read the whole thing.

If anything, I would argue that 'peace' would pose a danger to our economy because of the vastly increased risk of  terrorism - including rockets - emanating from a 'Palestinian state.'

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Obama's Center for American Progress: An Israeli attack on Iran would solve some problems

This is rich. The Obama-linked Center for American Progress wants Israel to attack Iran's nuclear program (Hat Tip: Mike P).
While the CAP paper was addressing the already-passed Nov. 24 deadline, it is instructive to note CAP’s support for Israeli military strikes on Tehran’s nuclear facilities if the talks had ended in failure.
CAP’s thinking on the issue could give a glimpse into the Obama administration’s attitudes and future planning if the nuclear talks collapse after the seven-month extension.
If the talks had failed, the CAP suggested the Obama administration should prepare “for the greater probability of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.”
The think tank posited the U.S. “should not necessarily oppose an Israeli strike under certain circumstances.”
Continued the CAP paper: “First, a successful Israeli attack may allow the United States to avoid difficult decisions about intervening in Iran’s nuclear program.”
“Second, the current regional situation diminishes the odds of an Israeli attack developing into a wider regional conflict.”
CAP explained the Iranian-backed Hezbollah would find it difficult to retaliate against Israel since it has been bogged down in Syria fighting the insurgency targeting Bashar al-Assad’s regime there.
CAP believes Assad himself is “unlikely to divert precious military resources away from his own survival, even to retaliate on behalf of his benefactors in Tehran.”
The paper concluded that most probably Iran would be left alone “with a very limited capability to retaliate.”
I've been arguing that here for years

PS Anyone else remember where we've seen Shlomo Brom before.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sunday November 30 is Jewish Nakba Day

This is long overdue.

Israel's President, Reuven Rivlin, will conduct a ceremony at his residence on Sunday marking the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries. Ben Dror Yemini explains.

The Knesset decided only this year to set aside a special day, November 30, to mark the Jewish Nakba. Most school children in Israel know about what was done to the Jews of Kishinev and also about what was done to the Jews in Deir Yassin.

But most Israeli students don't know about Jewish Nakba. They don't know about a long series of pogroms and massacres perpetrated against Jews in most Arab countries. The Kishinev pogroms in 1906 claimed the lives of 29 Jews. A year later, in pogroms in Morocco, 50 Jews were murdered in the city of Settat, and another 30 were killed in Casablanca.

How many high school students know about them? And how many know about the pogrom in Aden in 1948 in which 82 Jews were murdered? And how many know about the hundreds more who were killed during that period in Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Libya only because they were Jews?

The "narratives" have taken control of the university campuses and school system. On their behalf, Israeli students are told "the other side's version of the story." Not that one should belittle the pain of the Palestinians. God forbid. The thing is that there is nothing unique about the Palestinian story in particular. People fled. Some were deported too. But where were things any different?

And yet, the Jewish Nakba vanished into thin air, despite the fact that it was far more severe. After all, the Jews of the Arab states didn't declare war on the Arab countries; they didn't have a leader like the Mufti who was planning and plotting to eradicate all the Arabs – every last one. On the contrary, they were peaceful citizens wherever they were.

* * *
Let's set the record straight. The disintegration of the empires, beginning with the Ottoman, through to the Austro-Hungarian, and on to the British, intensified the demand on the part of various peoples for self-determination – no more multi-ethnic states under imperial rule, but nations with a sense of independent identity instead. Some would call it an imaginary heritage, but that's not important.

The result was huge waves of population transfers, beginning in 1912 and through to the years following World War II. Around 52 million people underwent the experience, including tens of millions in the period after the war.

Millions of Germans, Hungarians, Poles, Ukrainians, Turks, Greeks, Bulgarians, Romanians, Indians, Pakistanis and more and more were forced to leave their birthplaces to make way for national entities, old and new. One would be hard pressed to find a single conflict during the period in question that did not end without a population exchange.

And the same happened in the Jewish-Arab conflict too. When the Peel Commission decided in 1937 on a population exchange, one of the reasons it offered to support its decision was the fact that the Iraqis had carried out against the Assyrian minority, despite earlier assurances to safeguard their rights.

The population exchanges between Greece and Turkey also served as a backdrop for the commission's decision. At the time, this was the position held by statesmen, scholars and intellectuals. Furthermore, in 1930, the Permanent Court of International Justice, the highest international judicial instance at the time, approved population transfers by force when it ruled that the purpose of mass population transfers was to "more effectively aid the process of pacification of the Near East."
Read the whole thing

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Suicide bomber crosses from Turkey to Kobani

Kurdish fighters in Kobani, Syria are accusing Turkey of allowing a suicide bomber to operate against them from its territory.
The assault began when a suicide bomber driving an armored vehicle detonated his explosives on the border crossing between Kobani and Turkey, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for Syria's powerful Kurdish Democratic Union Party.
The Islamic State group "used to attack the town from three sides," Khalil said. "Today, they are attacking from four sides."
A Turkish government statement on Saturday confirmed that one of the suicide attacks involved a bomb-loaded vehicle that detonated on the Syrian side of the border. But it denied that the vehicle had crossed into Kobani through Turkey, which would be a first for the extremist fighters.
"Claims that the vehicle reached the border gate by crossing through Turkish soil are a lie," read the statement released from the government press office at the border town of Suruc. "Contrary to certain claims, no Turkish official has made any statement claiming that the bomb-loaded vehicle had crossed in from Turkey."
Mustafa Bali, a Kobani-based activist, said by telephone that Islamic State group fighters have taken positions in the grain silos on the Turkish side of the border and from there are launching attacks toward the border crossing point. He added that the U.S.-led coalition launched an airstrike Saturday morning on the eastern side of the town.
"It is now clear that Turkey is openly cooperating with Daesh," Bali said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. Later in the day, he said the situation was relatively calm on the border after a day of heavy clashes.
 Someone needs to tell Erdogan that Islamic State will not appoint him as the Caliph.

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Video report on Mubarak acquittal

Here's a CBS News report on the acquittal of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Let's  go to the videotape.

More from Ed Morrissey here.

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Mubarak acquitted, Tahrir erupts


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Islamic State to host 2026 World Cup

After Qatar (2022), what did you expect? The Islamic State terror group will be hosting the 2026 World Cup.
The bid was decided at a star-studded ceremony in Zurich, after what observers termed a “ruthlessly well-organised, take-no-prisoners style campaign”. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has defended the selection, noting that ISIS government policy, while ‘not perfect’, meets FIFA’s required ethical standards.
“At FIFA we believe that football is a truly global game,” he said. “That’s why we’ve chosen ISIS, an up-and-coming nation in the Middle East, to host the game.”
Alleged flaws in the human rights record of ISIS have made the choice highly controversial. One spot of contention has been the safety of Western football fans, who will, in the words of one ISIS spokesman, be ‘politely but firmly’ taken hostage and then killed regardless of religion. Blatter has suggested that these fans should stay at home.
It is also unclear whether air strikes will still be in operation against some of the venues. And Islamic State have yet to field an international team in football. “Their extremely radical interpretation of Islam doesn’t look kindly on playing football against non-Muslims,” explained one Sharia law expert. “They do have a strong local militant league with a growing youth squad, so they could be ones to watch in the future. Plus they’ve got lots of British-born talent going out there now to play.”
Can't wait to see the riots. Heh.

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The BDS terrorists' new photoshop - UPDATED

Shavua Tov, a good week to everyone.

The BDS terrorists have been spreading the image above around the internet. The Algemeiner reports:
The picture, posted by a page named “I Acknowledge Apartheid Exists”, shows skeletal survivors holding up signs that read “Israel Assassins,” “Break the Silence on Gaza,” “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza” and “Stop US Aid to Israel.” A sign in the far back of the image says Gaza is “the world’s biggest concentration camp,” while another poster shows a Palestinian flag along with the words “Free Palestine.”
A slogan at the bottom of the offensive image reads, “Whatever happened to ‘never again?’”
The Facebook page, which boasts over 91,000 members, captioned the post “Viva Palestine.” At the time of publication, the picture has been “liked” by 307 users and “shared” on the social media site by 110 users, including the Central NY Committee for Justice in Palestine.
Many Facebook users expressed disgust over the image, calling it “inappropriate,” “shameful” and asking for the picture to be taken down. One user said, “I find this really disturbing. It’s not a case of ‘not getting it’. How can exploiting and image of other people’s suffering be an acceptable thing to do? Is that not what we’re supposed to be against??”
Don't bother to write to Facebook about this. They won't take the page down anyway.


It turns out that this story was originally reported by Legal Insurrection around the time the Sabbath was starting in Israel. 

I suppose that anyone who has been to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam cannot be too surprised by Holocaust images being used to induce people to hate Israel. (That was already going on in 1980 when I was there). 

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Friday, November 28, 2014

We have a Darwin award winner

A Pakistani has won a Darwin Award for dying from smoke inhalation while burning an American flag.
Some 10,000 people rallied this week in Lahore, the capital of the Punjab province, to protest the movie trailer that Muslims say insults Islam, according to the International Herald-Tribune. One participant, identified as Abdullah Ismail, died after being taken to an area hospital. Witnesses said he had complained of feeling sick from the smoke from American flags burnt at the rally.

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Are we going to new elections?

Channel 2 reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu may ask to dissolve the Knesset this week and go to new elections - just a year and a half after the last elections.
According to the report, Netanyahu is considering three options, but it is believed that his preferred route would be to dissolve the Knesset.
The first option is for Netanyahu to wait until March 31 without the state budget for 2015 passing its second and third reading in the Knesset, which by law requires an election at the end of June.
The second option is to approach President Reuven Rivlin and ask him to dissolve the Knesset. In such a case, 21 days will given for an alternative government to be formed before elections are called, possibly paving the way for Finance Minister Yair Lapid or Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog forming an alternate government with the hareidim.
The third option is a bill to dissolve the Knesset. According to Channel 2, Netanyahu's associates are attempting to find out whether the other parties in the Knesset would support the dissolution of the Knesset if it is brought to a vote next week. Either way, Netanyahu is expected to decide on the issue within days, the report said.
Netanyahu and the parties in his coalition have been at odds over several issues, the latest being the controversial Jewish State Law, which passed a Cabinet vote this week but which Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni are opposed to and have threatened to vote against when it comes to a vote in the Knesset.
I don't see Lapid forming an alternative government with the Haredim, and although Herzog could, his party's Knesset delegation is too small to pull it off. Arutz Sheva goes on to report that Netanyahu offered the Haredi parties a deal on Wednesday, but that the Haredi parties are denying it. 

But the Haredi website Kikar Shabbat reported this morning that in fact Netanyahu has offered a deal to the Haredim and is awaiting a response from R. Aaron Yehuda Leib Steinman (link in Hebrew). The deal on offer would have the Haredim agree to recommend that Netanyahu form the next government after the elections in exchange for being assured that they will be part of that government.

In Maariv's Friday edition, columnist Ben Caspit reported that Rav Steinman may veto the idea - recalling that Netanyahu made promises to the Haredim that he did not keep after the last election, and not wanting Haredi 'demands' to become the key issue in the election.

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IDF develops flying pigs to destroy 'Palestinian' agriculture

Leave it to the IDF:
Israel’s efforts to drive Palestinian farmers off their lands received a boost this week with the announcement that the army would partner with local pig breeders to develop flying pigs for release in Palestinian agricultural areas.
Palestinians have long accused Israel of releasing wild boars to wreak havoc with Palestinian farms. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas repeated the charge again several days ago, but as in the past, few international bodies have given the matter much attention. Until now the boar-release program has apparently been a private initiative, but to capitalize on the apparent apathy of the international community, the Israeli military entered into an arrangement with the country’s only pig-farming enterprise to launch a breeding program aimed at producing winged, flying swine capable of mobility and destruction that far outstrips the achievements of the current available animals.
Kibbutz Lahav’s swine program has sparked controversy since its inception, given the Jewish dietary ban on pork and the cultural aversion to the animal. However, the army, which officially maintains Jewish dietary laws in its facilities, nevertheless sought out the program heads to develop this new kind of bio-weapon, which could be deployed much more flexibly to destroy Palestinian farms and property without directly implicating Jewish settlers.
And least you think this post was not written with tongue firmly planted in cheek....
A spokesman for the IDF declined to divulge the details of the breeding program. “We’ll be intentionally harming Palestinian agriculture when pigs fly,” he said.

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Birthright terminates relationship with New Israel Fund

Birthright Israel has terminated its relationship with the Leftist New Israel Fund, the largest and most powerful non-governmental source of support for Israeli civil society organizations, providing funding and organizational/political assistance. This is from the first link.
Birthright Israel, the American organization that organizes visits to Israel for participants from 66 different countries, has terminated a partnership with the controversial New Israel Fund (NIF,) resulting in the cancellation of a December visit to the Jewish state assembled by the two groups.
In an email to trip participants, Stephanie Ives, the New York Director for the NIF, said that “we have been cut from the trip for three reasons that have been communicated to us: (1) Birthright Israel determined that our marketing of the trip was in violation of their policy because our NIF logo was slightly larger than the Birthright Israel logo; (2) Birthright Israel NEXT has determined that it can no longer partner with NIF in any way because we seek to influence policy in Israel, and they have a rule against partnership with organizations that seek to influence policies in Israel or the United States; and (3) Birthright Israel decided to cancel a number of the New York UJA trips because of recruitment concerns.”
Ives added: “I wish this were not the case. We were truly excited to participate and honored to have been recruited to do so by Birthright Israel NEXT. More importantly, we think participation by progressive Israel organizations is crucial to allow Birthright Israel to continue having the kind of impact on the next generation America-Israel relationship that it seeks and that we seek.”
For those who aren't familiar with the New Israel Fund (search this blog!) NGO Monitor reports:
“Allegations by NIF-funded groups are frequently used to advance anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) activism – the claims of these groups are used to justify demonization,” NGO Monitor says. “For instance, the UC Berkeley divestment campaign (April 2013) referenced B’Tselem, Adalah, and PHR-I as documenting ‘ongoing human rights violations systematically committed by the Israeli government.’ We also note that previous NIF funding for radical anti-Israel groups (ICAHD, Coalition of Women for Peace, Mada al-Carmel, Al-Qaws, etc.), which has ended, continued for years and caused significant damage, including, for example, the decision by Dutch pension funds to divest from Israeli banks in January 2014.”
It's about time!

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Har Nof terrorist's wife doesn't want to leave

Nadia Abu Jamal, the wife of 31-year old Har Nof terrorist Ghassan Abu Jamal, is protesting her expulsion from Jerusalem back to her home in the 'Palestinian Authority.' She had a residence permit to live in Jerusalem because her late husband lived there.
Referring to her three children, Nadia Abu Jamal told Channel 2 News: "As if it is not enough that they lost their father, now they will also lose the home they live in.”

"They told us, the day after the (synagogue) attack, that they had revoked my residency rights in Jerusalem and that the house will be razed to the ground," Nadia Abu Jamal told AFP.
"If we'd known that my husband was planning an attack, of course we would have stopped him," she claimed. "I heard it on the radio, I heard that the man I loved had done such a thing."
MK Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan (Jewish Home) has no pity for Abu Jamal.
"The wife of the terrorist who murdered five innocent people and left 25 orphans is crying over the fact that following a decision by the Interior Minister, her children will lose their home after they 'lost' their father,” wrote Ben-Dahan on Facebook.
"It is interesting that she does not exhibit a single drop of mercy to the 25 children whose fathers were murdered by the terrorist in cold blood," wrote Ben Dahan. "Shocking."
Members of the Abu Jamal family passed out candies in celebration after last Tuesday's attack. 

For now, however, the Abu Jamal homes are safe. The 'supreme court' issued restraining orders against their destruction on Thursday. Disgraceful....

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General Security Service stops mass terror attack at Teddy Stadium

Israel's Shin Bet General Security Service has broken up a large 'Palestinian' terror cell that was planning a mass terror attack at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium. The terror cell was commanded from - where else? - Turkey.
The Shin Bet announcement confirmed a Times of Israel report last week that said Israel had arrested dozens of members of a Hamas terror network operating throughout the West Bank. The network, Palestinian officials said, was funded and directed by Hamas officials in Turkey who have set up a de facto command center in the Muslim country.
More than 30 Hamas operatives were arrested during the month of September, the Shin Bet said Thursday. The majority were recruited while studying in Jordan and trained in either Syria or the Gaza Strip, which they entered via tunnels from Sinai.
The Shin Bet said the ring was preparing to kidnap Israelis in Israel and abroad, enter Israeli villages, detonate car bombs, perpetrate roadside attacks, and execute a terror attack in Teddy Stadium, where the Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem plays its home games.
The Shin Bet asserted that the plan was evidence of an “indefatigable” desire on Hamas’s part to rehabilitate its terror infrastructure in the West Bank and to tug Israel into a sharp military response, which might indirectly lead to the toppling of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s regime, which is “one of Hamas’ goals.”

As with the previous network, the man behind the terrorist grouping was Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas leader who was deported from the West Bank to Turkey in 2010, the sources said.
Anyone want to argue that deporting terrorists on their release prevents them from carrying out terror attacks? It seems to me that we shouldn't be releasing them at all whether or not they're going to be deported.

Read the whole thing.

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'Palestinian Authority' television calls the Har Nof terrorists 'victims'

Our 'peace partner's official government television station is calling the two terrorists who murdered five people in Har Nof last Tuesday 'victims.'

Let's go to the videotape.

But some people think this isn't incitement. More (including details of the terror attacks involved that passed too quickly to read on the screen) here.

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A really important and moving video

Last night, I received the email and video below along with several other Israel-related blogs and news sites. My first reaction was that it had nothing to do with the normal fare of my blog, but I was curious to see it. Having now watched it, I think it's really important to spread it around.

15 years ago, I represented two investors who walked away from a business transaction because the Chief Executive Officer of the company turned out to be a child molester. The company's founders had no idea of that when they hired him. I was proud of the two clients for walking away on principle - they wouldn't do business with someone who molested children. Too many people in Israel would have said 'but we invested so much in the deal already' (or stiffed the lawyer on the bill). They did neither of those things. They paid their bill and walked away. Then I found out that one of the clients had a child who had been abused by an educator....

Here's the email I got last night:
Survivors from Orthodox Jewish Community break the silence on abuse in short film by Jewish Community Watch

Brooklyn NY, November 26, 2014 - Jewish Community Watch, an organization dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse (CSA) and assisting survivors within the Orthodox Jewish community has announced the release of a new short film called Speak Up, telling the stories of seven young adults from the Orthodox Jewish community who suffered the horrors of child sexual abuse and have journeyed from being victims to survivors.

“This video was produced in order to raise awareness of abuse and to send a message of solidarity to survivors, that they are not alone,” said Meyer Seewald, Founder and CEO of Jewish Community Watch. “If you are a survivor, please know that you have nothing to be ashamed of! You can come forward and speak up,either by contact us or publicly, because when you do, JCW will be there to support you!”

Speak up was produced and directed by Daniel Finkelman of Sparks Next Productions

About Jewish Community Watch.

Jewish Community Watch was founded in 2011 with the stated goal of breaking the silence and shame that surrounds CSA in the Orthodox Jewish community. JCW prevents further abuse by notifying the public of the threat of the abusers in their vicinity, educates the public about what to look out for, and helps survivors of abuse heal by reminding them that they are not alone and by supporting them through their battles.

JCW recently re-launched JewishCommunityWatch.org which represents the most extensive Jewish website combating child sexual abuse. It hosts extensive content, including a vast education center, the Wall of Shame with 93 profiles of alleged abusers, information for survivors to get help, relevant laws with regards to each state, myths and facts on CSA and much more.

More information at http://jewishcommunitywatch.org/

Connect with JCW:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JewishCommunityWatch.Org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JCWatch
Instagram: http://instagram.com/jewish_community_watch
And here's the video. Let's go to the videotape.

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Must see video: UN Ambassador Ron Prosor rips the Europeans some new body parts

This is guaranteed to be the best three minutes you spend today.

Here's Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, telling the Europeans to stuff it where the sun don't shine. This is part of the the UN International day of solidarity with the 'Palestinian People' debate.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Leah P).

And they consider themselves 'friends.' With 'friends' like this....

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers in America!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

'Secret back channel' doomed 'peace talks'?

The New Republic reports that the failure of last summer's 'peace talks' was brought about by the use of a secret back channel between Prime Minister Netanyahu's personal attorney, Yitzchak Molho, and an unnamed and apparently unauthorized confidante of 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen. This is from the first link.
The secret channelreported here for the first timecreated substantial progress toward an agreement. But it also had one fundamental flaw, which contributed to the collapse of Kerry's entire process. Abbas’s supposed representative was in fact holding these talks without a real mandate from the Palestinian President; the concessions he discussed with Molho didn't represent the President's views. Parts of this story remain unsolvedmost importantly, why this lack of a mandate was missed or ignored in real time. But what can be told is enough to raise some hard questions about Kerry's effort, and offer important lessons for future attempts at reaching an agreement. 
The extent of Abbas's detachment from the secret-channel's product became clear in early 2014, when Kerry decided to merge the two negotiation tracks. The understanding that had developed through the secret channel was spilled into the discussions that Indyk's team was holding with both sides over a "framework document.” Netanyahu was willing to work with the fruits of the secret channel (although he insisted on airing his reservations, and the negotiations his advisers held with Indyk over the exact wording were endless). But Abbas completely rejected what had already, supposedly, been accepted by his own negotiator. He wasn't willing to show any flexibility on the Jewish state issue, and the idea of excluding any clear reference to a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem seemed like political suicide.
The anger Abbas expressed at the American framework caught Kerry by surprise: After all, these were all ideas his supposed negotiator was discussing with Molho. Realizing he had a problem with Abbas, Kerry tried to convince Netanyahu to tilt some of the provisions in Abbas's direction. But the Israeli Prime Minister was not having it. "We already agreed on these issues in the secret channel," he told the Secretary, according to a former senior U.S. official.
"Bibi is angry at Kerry for opening up understandings that everybody considered a done deal, just because Abbas had changed his mind,” an Israeli Minister told me in February. But a Palestinian official rebuffed this criticism, saying that Abbas never changed his mind on anything: "He was presented with positions that no Palestinian leader could ever accept, and that he personally had spoken out against many times."
For some, it was always clear that the positions presented by the supposed "Palestinian negotiator" in this secret channel were totally unacceptable for Abbas. Officials involved in the process admit in retrospect that there was too much wishful thinking regarding the backchannel.
A major reason for the skepticism of some people involved in the negotiations toward this backchannel, had to do with Abbas's ostensible confidante. A number of Israeli, American, and Palestinian officials claimed that it was a miscalculation to assume this person would have authority to make concessions on delicate issues. One senior Palestinian official told me that those in the American and Israeli camps who thought otherwise were "fools."
 A possibility that's not really considered here is that this was all an effort by the 'Palestinians' to see if Israel was bluffing. They never intended to make any concessions but they wanted to see if Israel would. Now, they will pocket the concessions made in the 'back channel' and insist that the 'negotiations' start from there the next time.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

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And they lived happily ever after...

Oh my....

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@JeffreyGoldberg comes out for automatically triggered sanctions against Iran


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Abu Bluff opposes BDS?


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Sarkozy comes out against French recognition of 'Palestine'

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has come out against a measure that is to be voted on in the French parliament next week calling for the unilateral recognition of 'Palestine.'
Sarkozy condemned the unilateral measure, which is set to be presented for a parliamentary vote on December 2, in the wake of the “heinous and bloody” Har Nof terror attack last week in which five Israelis were killed.
“I will fight for the Palestinians to have their state. But unilateral recognition a few days after a deadly attack and when there is no peace process? No!” he said at a political rally.
Sarkozy said he would never accept a resolution that would “call into question the security of Israel.”
“This is the fight of my life,” he said.
France’s plans for a non-binding but highly symbolic vote follows similar resolutions passed by the British and Spanish parliaments, and an official decision to recognize Palestine by the Swedish government.
Sweden’s move infuriated Israel which responded by recalling its ambassador to Stockholm.
Don't these European countries have anything better to do?

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Study: NY Times seven times more likely to criticize Israel than 'Palestinians'

A study done by CAMERA shows that the New York Times is seven times more likely to criticize Israel than to criticize the 'Palestinians' and twice as likely to publish opinion pieces that promote the 'Palestinian' narrative than the Israeli one.
The analysis, which examined staff columns and guest Op-Eds during the year period from Oct. 5, 2013 through Oct. 4, 2014, considers the 75 opinion pieces that focused on Israel or the Palestinians. Of those, 31 were either predominantly critical of Israel or sympathetic to Palestinians; 14 were either predominantly critical of Palestinians or sympathetic to Israel; the remaining 30 did not predominantly criticize or support one side over the other, although they often suggested a moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas by criticizing both in roughly equal measure.
(While moral equations between Israel, a liberal democracy, and Hamas, an internationally designated terror organization, are often and understandable viewed as anti-Israel, for the purpose of this study articles that equate those two parties are considered neutral. However, articles that equate Hamas and Israel while casting the Palestinian Authority as the one reasonable, moderate party are categorized as primarily sympathetic to Palestinians/critical of Israelis.)

As tensions rose in Israel and Gaza, the lopsidedness became even more pronounced. From June 12, the day three Israeli teens were kidnapped and killed, through Aug. 26, when Israel and Hamas reached a cease-fire agreement, the newspaper published three times as many opinion pieces predominantly critical of Israel or sympathetic to Palestinians as those critical of Palestinians or sympathetic to Israel — 3 vs. 9. 
In practice this means, for example, that after the murder of three Israeli Jewish teens and the subsequent murder of an Arab teen, readers were exposed to "A Mother's Fear in East Jerusalem," an emotional, first-person account by an Arab mother about her worries about her son's safety, which she used as a hook to argue that "the world must hold the Israeli government accountable for its actions"; but those same readers are left unexposed to the fears and feelings of Jewish mothers, even though it is them and their sons who most often are targeted in acts of murderous terrorism.  
The discrepancy fits with the recent admission by a New York Times opinion editor that the newspaper chooses to shy away from scrutiny of Palestinians. Opinion editor Matt Seaton, who was commenting on Twitter about his department's decision to publish three Op-Eds alleging Israeli racism in three consecutive months, asserted that The Times does not intend to publish pieces about Palestinian racism until the Palestinians have a "sovereign state."
While none of this is shocking to anyone who follows the Times, the fact that studies like this one are nowhere to be found in the legacy media is mind-boggling.

Read the whole thing

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What could go wrong?

The so-called 'gap' in construction labor could be filled in by employers voluntarily paying living wages so that Jews would be more likely to be willing to fill the positions in question. That would be the best scenario. It's not like the construction contractors are starving.

It could also be filled with legal temporary residence permits for people from countries with little or no history of overstaying visas (e.g. Philippines and Thailand).

Allowing Gazans to work here opens a Pandora's box for terrorism that has largely been closed for the last 12-14 years.

In the meantime, the Histadrut Labor Federation (think of the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters and the Mafia all rolled into one) has started a campaign to raise the minimum wage, which would only drive the cost of employment in the construction industry up further and increase the salaries that would be demanded by manual labor-averse Jews, ensuring that no one other than Arabs would take the positions for the salaries offered.

This is crazy.

What could go wrong?

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Who is killing Israelis/'Palestinians'?

There's a difference between how the deaths of Israelis and the deaths of 'Palestinians' are being reported in the international media. And it's an important difference that indicates bias.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Tzippy Yarom).

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The first thing we do: We blame the Joooz

More here (Hat Tip: The Beguiling Avigayil - Child #1 Daughter #1).


What the Newton public schools pro-'Palestinian' education has brought

There's a lot of outrage over this report about the public schools in Newton, Mass., the town in which I grew up.
Parents groups are up in arms after a recent report found public schools in Newton, Massachusetts presented whitewashed versions of Hamas and Palestinian Authority (PA) charters, as well as other materials posing the destruction of Israel as acceptable.
The findings were made through an investigation of classroom materials by the independent watchdog group Verity Educate, which discovered "repeated instances of bias against Israel, bias against the US and its actions in the Middle East, and bias that sanitizes the ideology and actions of terrorists."
Parents for Excellence in Newton Schools (PENS), which took part in the research, on Sunday released a statement demanding action over the issue and detailing just how serious the school materials were.
In one case, students were given a modified version of the Hamas charter, in which references to genocide were removed and the word "Jew" was replaced with "Israeli" to sanitize the terrorist group's murderous intentions.
I wonder how growing up in the Newton public schools influenced this New York Times reporter.


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Michele Flournoy decides she doesn't want to be Defense Secretary either

Michele Flournoy has decided that she doesn't want to be US Secretary of Defense either (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
But in a letter Tuesday to members of the CNAS board of directors, Flournoy said she would remain in her post at the think tank and asked Obama to take her out of consideration to be the next secretary of defense. Flournoy told the board members that family health considerations helped drive her decision and the fact that two of her children are leaving for college in the next two years.
"Last night I spoke with President Obama and removed myself from consideration due to family concerns," reads the letter. "After much agonizing, we decided that now was not the right time for me to reenter government. The good news is that you all are stuck with me for the indefinite future!"
The move means that only one of the three names rumored for the post remains under consideration: Ashton Carter, the former deputy secretary of defense. When Hagel was ousted Monday, speculation had immediately turned to Flournoy, Carter, and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a former Army Ranger. But Reed took himself out of the running almost immediately after Hagel announced his resignation.
I wonder whether the history of Obama's Secretaries of Defense had any influence on Flournoy's decision. 
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday suggested Hagel had vented “frustration” to him over his treatment by the White House.
The steady stream of stories in recent weeks that suggested Hagel was having a difficult time penetrating the president’s inner circle carried echoes of Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, two past Defense secretaries who went on to write tell-all books critical of the president’s handling of defense policy.
Former Democratic aide Brent Budowsky said Democrats across the Capitol saw Hagel’s ouster as the latest example of “unprecedented” drama created by “too tight and too controlling of an inner circle.”
He noted that not only had each of the president’s previous Defense secretaries voiced concern over his Syria policy, so had former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“This is going to precipitate a very visible battle beginning today and going through the confirmation of his successor about what the policy should be, and highlight the long-term and chronic internal disagreement,” said Budowsky, who is a columnist for The Hill.
Other defense experts say Hagel was not particularly close with the president or members of his national security team. 
"He had no relationships that were already established within this administration," said a retired military officer with current policy experience in Washington, who wanted to speak on background. 
The retired officer noted that Hagel is also older than the president's closest advisers, such as Rice and chief of staff Denis McDonough. 
"The generational difference was a really difficult thing," he said.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Remembering the martyrs

As you might recall, a week ago tonight, I attended a memorial at Maimonides school in Brookline, Mass. for Rabbi Moshe Twersky HY"D (May God Avenge his blood), one of four holy men who were murdered during their morning prayers at Kehillat Bnei Torah in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem last Tuesday morning. The shiva (seven-day mourning period) for these four men ended on Monday morning, and this evening, Tuesday, I was part of an overflow crowd that spent more than three hours (plus extra time just to get into the synagogue) one floor up from where the terror attack took place, listening to eulogies for those four and praying for five other men who are still hospitalized, many of them still in serious condition.

I won't give you a lot of details of what was said, but I will tell you that I started crying when Rav Yitzchak Mordechai Rubin shlita (May he live for long days and years), the shul's rabbi, brought the story from the Talmud (Gittin 57) of Hannah and her seven sons who were martyred for refusing the Roman emperor's command to bow to an idol, and how she told the last son to go find our forefather Abraham in Heaven and tell him that while he, Abraham, had only offered to make one altar with a son for God (Akeidath Yitzchak, the binding of Isaac), she, Hannah, had made seven altars. Rav Rubin then instructed the four martyrs to go to Abraham and tell him that the synagogue had made four altars for God....

I have an update from Rebbetzin Tzipora Heller, which I would like to share with you (Hat Tip: Mrs. Carl).
The men who died in Kehillas Bnei Torah died as they lived; they were dedicated to living with emunah, faith in God, and beginning their days with dedication. They were killed for not being Muslim. When my daughter Miri received the call from the hospital social worker telling her to get to Hadassah hospital as soon as possible and not to come alone, it was one of the worst moments that anyone could experience. All four people in the car spent the 20-minute ride saying all of the variations of "I can't believe that this can be happening. It sounds terrible" that you can possibly imagine. When we were allowed into the recovery room to see Shmuli after his initial surgery, there were no tears; we were too shell-shocked. It takes only seconds to assume a new sort of normal.
When I asked the nurse about the trickle of blood that I saw flowing out of Shmuli's ear, she told me that they were able to control the majority of the flow, and that this isn't really significant. When they do the second surgery they'll take care of it. The answer sounded reasonable and left me feeling relieved. I had accepted that blood coming out of a man's head was normal, and that a second surgery was something to look forward to. I don't know what Miri was thinking, but the one thing that I know never crossed her mind or mine was regret.
Neither of us wished that he would have stayed home from the synagogue that Tuesday morning any more than Sunday or Monday. Neither of us wished that my grandson Mordechai would be the kind of kid who doesn't like to go to shul with his dad. We both know that the villain of the story isn't the coincidences of time and place that led them to be in Kehillas Bnei Torah Tuesday morning. The villain is the man with the cleaver and the man with the gun.
They are the stars of the tragedy but you can't let yourself be blind to the fact that they are supported by a cast of thousands. The countless kids who are taught hatred from their earliest youth for anyone who isn't them. The kadi in the mosque who spews out Itbach al Yahud (kill the Jews) in his Friday sermon after duly praising Allah the Compassionate. There are bit players in the ongoing drama. They have made the media the message, and the subtle and not so subtle anti-Semitism disguised pathological hatred for Israel all deserve billing.
Neither Miri nor I thought about them at the moment. We were both aware of something much bigger, more real than the ongoing soap opera called Them against Us. It's called faith in God, Who can turn things around in a moment, and whose Will isn't known to us but His ongoing kindness is. It was the only thing that mattered in the recovery room.
Read the whole thing.

As  I was leaving the synagogue this evening, I noticed a handwritten sign on the wall. It asked in Hebrew and English that anyone who has a freezer from R. Aryeh Kopinsky HY"D's Gmach should call a certain number.

May God Have mercy on the families of all the victims, and give them the strength to continue.

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